US attack on Syrian plane in Syrian sky is act of war – Russian senator
As tension between Moscow and Washington escalates following a US fighter jet shooting down a Syrian government jet and then downing an armed drone belonging to pro-Syrian government forces, RT spoke to Aleksey Pushkov, a Chairman of the Russia's Federation Council Mass Media Committee and discussed the prospects of further cooperation between the two countries.
RT: Russia has suspended cooperation with Washington on Syria after the US shot down a Syrian government plane. What needs to be done to restore that cooperation?
Aleksey Pushkov: First, as Moscow has stated, the US has to give an explanation for this attack. The explanation that was given is definitely not sufficient. It was said the Syrian fighter dropped bombs near the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces supported by the US. But in fact, the Syrian government is asserting that the fighter was bombing the positions of Islamic State. The US should explain how it happened that they attacked a Syrian plane in the airspace of Syria. Actually, this is an act of war. It means Syrian airspace is being denied to Syrian fighters. In Syria, there is only one government, the one which is represented in the UN and recognized by the whole world. If the US attacks a Syrian [warplane] in the Syrian sky, it means an act of war and the US should give an explanation for this act of war…
RT: The US has attacked pro-government forces in Syria several times recently but this is the first time it has taken out a government jet. Has Washington crossed a line here?
AP: The US wants in this way to show that there are two Syrias. One Syria headed by the government in Damascus and the other Syria which is comprised of the armed military opposition to President Assad and some other forces that are supported by the US. But this is a very dangerous policy because it leads to the division of Syria into two parts. Officially, the US recognized that they want to have a united Syria, a Syria that that will keep its territorial integrity. But if they deny a certain territory for the military activity of the Syrian government, it means they want a divided Syria. The US has never recognized this until now. So, their policy contradicts their official position. That is why we need clarity on this.
RT: Australian pilots have suspended military operations in Syria, apparently seeing the situation there as no longer safe. Is Washington putting its coalition partners at risk?
AP: I think it is putting them at risk because if you attack the military forces of the government of Syria, then nobody can guarantee that there will be no retaliation. And you are well aware that the Russian government declared that it had frozen the memorandum on the prevention of incidents between the Russian air forces and the coalition air forces in the Syrian skies. This is a precarious situation, and I think the Australian government has made quite a reasonable move until the situation is sorted out to prevent any kind of incidents that would endanger the Australian planes. I think that this is a wise decision. I think the US should do something to restore the trust that is necessary to make Russia come back to the memorandum on the prevention of incidents. I think the US should change their position and not attack any Syrian military planes in the future. As Foreign Minister Lavrov recently stated – all actions should be coordinated. This was a unilateral action from the US, and that is why Russia moved out of the memorandum.
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